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What's So Funny about a Black President?

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Momlogic's Jenny: "Yes we can!" A chant that echoed across this nation as Barack Obama became the first African-American to win the White House. Last night's historic event undoubtedly proved that our nation is ready for change and that race has nothing to do with capability. But in the world of comedy, does race have anything to do with "funny"?

jay leno talking about barack obama

For the past eight years, George W. Bush has been called every name under the sun. On a daily basis, it seemed like there was always something to make fun of when it came to his presidency. Teased for being a "hillbilly" and a hick, the knocks at Bush have always insinuated that he was just another dumb white guy from Texas. With Bush in the White House, the opportunity for jokes and sketches seemed never ending. He literally was a massive joke and gave everyone in America (and around the world), no matter what race or ethnicity, something to laugh about.

But will we be able to be as relentless in joking about Barack Obama? Or do comedians need to tailor their content because of the color of his skin? We all know when it comes to race, there is a fine line about what is acceptable. I would never consider myself racist or discriminating, but when I brought up the question of comedy changing up at a meeting and asked if saying something like "Pimp the White House" in reference to the Obama's moving in was offensive, many people, including an African American coworker, thought it was. Granted, that might not be an example of "funny," but if Chris Rock said it, would everyone have laughed and said it was OK? Just last week, Obama appeared on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart and joked that his white half might be confused about who to vote for on November 4th. I thought the dialogue was smart, witty and acceptable. Michael Richards horrific racial rant two years ago at LA's Laugh Factor? Not acceptable -- offensive. And certainly, NOT FUNNY. Even so, it seems with the face of our nation literally changing, there is potential for offense to be taken at even the slightest of jokes spewed by even the most liberal of late night talk show hosts.

In fact, many comedians actually fear that having a "perfect" African American man as President, gives them very little to joke about. Bill Maher recently joked, "Barack Obama has to give comedians something to work with. Seriously, here's a guy who's not fat, not cheating on his wife, not stupid, not angry and not a phony. Who needs an a**hole like that around for the next four years?!" He went on to joke that he doesn't want to have to shy away from jokes at Obama's expense for the next four years for fear of being dubbed a racist: "If you can't laugh at a guy who went to Columbia, Harvard, the Senate and the White House, and who happens to be black, the racist is you."

But where should comedians draw the line? When it comes to joking, what's off limits and what's okay? If our nation can see past color, do we need to see past jokes?

Tell us what you think....comment in the momlogic community.


next: Levi Johnston Dodges the Shotgun Bullet
22 comments so far | Post a comment now
Trina November 6, 2008, 8:26 AM

it will be hard because ut us such a fine line, but i don’t see the problem, whats the difference between calling bush a “dumb hick” or “hillbilly” and saying “pimp the white house”??? i don’t see a difference….why is it okay to make fun of white people and not black, some people need to lighten up…..its not like they are saying the things that michael richards said, he was serious, no matter how much he wants to say he was kidding. but unfortunatley people are going to be too afraid to make jokes for being dubbed racist….i just find it so idiotic that we can call bush those things and it’s OKAY and FUNNY, but if it’s for a black person it’s racist. i’m not racist, but we have to be able to make fun of ourselves.

YVETTE LATIOLAIS November 6, 2008, 8:39 AM

I AGREE.

Melissa November 6, 2008, 9:04 AM

Comedy is all about picking on people- fat, skinny, dumb, boring, nerdy, kids, old people, different nationalities, childbirth, women,men, different religions, gays, lesbions, you name it. Anything can be a subject for comedy. If Obama and all his followers can’t be picked on then they need to stop wearing their feelings on their sleeves. Get the chip off of their shoulders about being black!

JONVAN November 6, 2008, 9:30 AM

You would think after 200 years they would learn to take a joke. Black people are more racist and discriminating than white people. Comedy if funny in any form if you can’t take it then don’t watch it. Chris Rock gets away with it why cant we.

steve November 6, 2008, 11:31 AM

It is now the Black House, bring on the jokes. Let the jokes flow. It is not like Bush is the only president that has been made fun of. It is in the job description of President of any country. If Obama or any black person cannot handle it, than they should not have voted his black A$$ in. Not only does it open the doors for black president jokes, it opened the door for any black jokes.

Linda November 6, 2008, 12:08 PM

i fully agree with Trina…who cares i don’t and i think their should be more now of a black jokes..because they are always tipping toeing around the blacks for years and someone is always loosing a job because they made a wise crack about a black person..lets get REAL!

thetruthspeaks November 6, 2008, 12:13 PM

Funny, I thought people joked about GW jr. because he fit the stereotype of a hick and not simply because he was white. If comedians try to impose black stereotypes upon Barrack that he doesn’t personify then I will say that would be ignorant. It is always perplexing to read these blogs from people who clearly have racist viewpoints and refer to large groups of people as “they”. How do you typecast an entire group and imply that all people of a that “race” should do/ perceive whatever way you think “they” should perceive. The apathy that Black Americans endure pertaining to their history is mindboggling to me. Should comedians make reference and trivialize the Holocaust experience to a Jewish politician? America was as much a racist state as Nazi Germany and the Black Americans endured suffering for far prolonged period of time. MILLIONS of blacks lost their lives to the American experience and the ramifications of this racism still permeates our society today. The bottomline is race should not be off limits for Barrack, as long as jokes are predicated on his actual behavior/mannerisms and not stereotypes that have nothing to do with who he is. No one would tease Bush for being an astute Ivy League scholar because even though he attended an Ivy League school everyone knew he was no scholar.

GarageLogician November 6, 2008, 12:27 PM

ALERT: All white people report tomorrow morning to the Cotton Fields for Orientation.

I like this one.

Marina November 6, 2008, 1:10 PM

I can almost guarantee that everyone making a comment on this post is WHITE! White people do not know what it is like to be BLACK! You have never had to walk down the street in a “white” neighborhood and people look at you like you are the scum of the earth or to have someone talk down to you because they think you are uneducated (because you are black). Black people are so welcoming, no matter what race you are. You don’t know what it’s like. Until you can walk in a black persons shoes, you should close your mouth. It doesn’t matter that Barack Obama is president, he is only ONE man and the way black people are treated is not going to change. I do think it is dis-respectful to talk about anybody because they are a certain race, but if we as black people want to talk about each other (chris rock) then damnit we have earned the right to do so. If you notice NONE of the late night comedians complaining are black, they are WHITE MEN (with the exception of Jay Leno). We’re not your “niggers”, “negros”, “coloreds” and whatever else white people are calling us. I don’t think white people want to be called “honkys” or “crackers”. Everyone on this post needs to think long and hard on what they are saying. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ginger November 6, 2008, 1:47 PM

Let us not forget the fact that in order for “The first black president to get into office” many many MANY white men, white women, honkies and crackers voted him there.

skoobs November 6, 2008, 1:51 PM

Barack Obama is no more a black man than he is a white man.

Scarlet Lotus November 6, 2008, 2:09 PM

EXCELLENT point, Skoobs. No doubt it will go over so many heads here.

Fed Up With (inserst race here) Power Comments November 6, 2008, 2:50 PM

Marina. Do you know what it’s like to be white or hispanic walking in a predominately black neighborhood or street?? It is SO, SO not limited to you. I won’t even go down the list of names there are for them. There is not one person in this country who can say that they have never been looked down on or called names. There is also not one person who can honestly not say they have never done either to another person. This is all a matter of respect here people. The only people we can control is ourselves. Stop blaming everyone else. Treat others as you want to be treated. IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE.

Mollie November 6, 2008, 2:59 PM

Marina I may not know what it is like to be black but I do know what it is to be white and be in pretty much the exact situtation you are describing. Not all black people are welcoming. I think you are flying off the handle for no reason on this one. I see no one making a reference to any of the names that you claim white people are calling black people.

I was excited for this election. I am an Obama supporter and was so excited when my 8 year old and I were watching the election and he asked me why people were making a big deal about his skin color. To quote him “No one cared what color George Bush’s skin was.”

I personally feel that as a country we are over the race issue. I live in a rather small town in Kansas and around here there are very few people who care at all what color people’s skin is.

So before you tell me that I don’t know what it is like to be black tell me why it matters what color your own skin is? Being proud of who you are is fine but constantly reminding others that you are black and that you have endured years of suffering is just pointless. I don’t think there are many american’s who haven’t read history books and haven’t learned about the suffering african americans went through.

Scarlet Lotus November 6, 2008, 8:03 PM

Mollie, you contradict yourself…for your 8 yr old son to notice how everyone made a big deal about Obama’s color enough for him to say “No one cared what color George Bush’s skin was” proves we are NOT “over the race issue,” as you said.

Anna November 6, 2008, 10:45 PM

Marina, First off, Black people can and have gotten away with calling white people Cracker, I have heard it numerous times on tv and it has never been even awknowledged as a racist statement.
Second, people in a predominantly white neigborhood (in most cases) don’t see that many black people. Its not that they expect you to rob a house or pull a gun out, it is just different. I know because I grew up in an area with not too many black people. When a girl moved in next door when I was 11years old who was part black (her brother’s skin was white and had no physical traits of being black). When they went on the bus every one stared at them because we didn’t have that many black people in our neigborhood. People also whispered and asked questions as to wheither one of them was adopted. Its not that we were racist, or that we had anything against people who were black. Its just because they stood out because there was only one black kid in the school before she moved into the area.

the point is, what your paraniod mind thinks everyone in a predomenantly white neighborhood is thinking when they stare or look at you strange is probably not true. However rude staring is- it is not always out of hate or profiling- like if somebody walked down the road with their pet potbelly pig- most people will stare simply because it is out of the ordinary not because they think pig owners are disgusting or that they think that pigs are ugly.

mike November 7, 2008, 5:22 PM

Black people and White people will always be different no matter what your beliefs are. There will always be racism. Have a nice day

mary November 7, 2008, 10:21 PM

I think it’s fine to make jokes about him, just not about his ‘race’, if that makes any sense! I know it will be touchy and I think that as long as they don’t venture into negative stereotyping of black people, then I think it should be fine.

Henry Gonzalez November 29, 2008, 4:13 AM

I think it’s cool that Obama will be president. The thing that I don’t understand is that, why does everyone think he is a super hero of the country? The dude will do his job just like a white man will. He should do his job well and not curupt. We all expect nothing but the best from him just like we expect nothing but the best from a white man. He is not special and he is not a super hero. He is only the president. By the way, I am mexican and I live in Los Angeles and I think mexicans are making it easier for blacks and I can promise you that we can take any racist joke any one has to say about us. I am living the american dream and I am proud of this country and I am happy here because it is better than mexico. You can say anything you want about mexicans. It’s cool, we can take it because little by little we are already the largest minority.
Gonzalez

IESHA December 11, 2008, 1:04 PM

MARINA………………I FEEEL WHERE YOU ARE COMMING FROM THE WHITE PEOPLE HAVENT GONE THROUGH WHAT WE DID BACK IN THE DAYS WE BEEN BEAT KILLED MOLESTED AND WATEVA ELSE IN THE BOOK AND THE WHITES GOT AWAY WITH THAT BUT NOW WE PUTTING OUR FOOTS DOWN TO MAKE A CHANGE IN THAT SITUATION FOR WE CAN GET BETTER JOBS I GUESS THE WHITES WANT EVERTHING FOR THEMSELVES THEY NEED TO THIONK ABOUT THINGS FOR A CAHNGE AND IM ONLY 15 IN THE 10 GRADE IVE BEEN SIZED UP BY WHITE PEOPLE WHEN I WAS SICK AND IN THE HOSPITAL PUT I COULDNT DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT BECAUSE I WAS THE PATIENT AND THEY WAS A DOCTOR OR A NURSE BUT THEY TRYNA PUT HIM OT OF THE WHITE HOUSE BUT IF U READ THE BIBLE THINGS HAVE TO CHANGE AND THEY WILL I KNOW IT WILL FOR THE BETTER I LOVE YOU BARACK OBAMA I RESIDE IN NORTHCAROLINA GREENSBORO A STUDENT AT PAGE HIGH


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